Monday, September 22, 2014

A Peek At Our Week: Characterization and Text Structure

Hello, friends! I hope that everyone had a great Monday!  Last week was our first full week of the Daily Five and overall it went really well.  Of course we have a few things we need to work on but I know we will be pros before too long!

I changed up my rotation board and some of the things my students will be doing during the Daily Five a bit this year.  I purchased my new rotation cards from Jessica, aka The TeacherTalk.  I loved all the different options; you can find them in here store {here}.

This year I added a vocabulary station, a journaling station, and a task card station.  So I guess you could say that my Daily Five block has more of a workstation vibe this year. 

This reason for adding the additional stations was because I wanted to provide my students with additional exposures to our vocabulary words/skills and I also wanted to give them additional opportunities to work on some of the anchor standards and skills that are often on our end of the unit/year assessments.  Including these two stations has made a difference already. 
Responding to reading is huge part of our PBA PARCC assessments, so I wanted to make sure we all got a head start when it came to responding to our reading. I just started introducing responding to reading to some of my groups and I'll share more of what my students do later in the year.  

Last week our task card station had my students reviewing main idea.  Most groups used {these} task cards, which you will see below, and my below level/IEP students used {these} task cards. 

Since I have a large number of IEP students this year, I knew additional exposures to our vocabulary words would help them better understand our anchor text and allow them to be more successful on our biweekly comprehension tests.  This week our vocabulary station had my students reviewing the meanings of our Treasures vocabulary words for The Raft.  My students played vocabulary memory, vocabulary dominoes, filled out a crossword and then wrote sentences with our vocabulary words.  I somehow forgot to take pictures of this station but I think you get the gist of how our vocabulary station works/functions.  

As the year progresses, my students will do more with Greek/Latin roots and figurative language for their vocabulary station work but this certainly works for now! 

My students always love our word work workstations, which I use for my spelling stations.  I use parts of Amanda’s Words Galore pack and other materials that I’ve collected throughout the years.  Their favorites this year are sign language, sandpaper words and magnet words.

During our reading rotations I focused on characterization and informational text structure with my students.  I got lucky last week because the main selection from our basal,The Raft,  is a great book to use for characterization because the main character, Nicky, makes such a drastic change from the beginning to end of the book. 

On Monday, I modeled how to use a character’s actions, thoughts/feelings and words when choosing his/her character traits.  I used the following anchor chart, no judging, and passage for this mini lesson. 

In small groups, we examined Nicky’s thoughts/feelings, words and actions from the first half of the book carefully in our small groups to choose character traits that best described him the first time we met.  I sadly don't have a picture of this activity but I did use of the character graphic organizers from this pack

We finished the book as a whole class later in the week and discussed how Nicky’s character changed during the story. 

I noticed while meeting with my small groups, many of my students wanted to use words like “not nice” or “mad” to describe Nicky.  Which was true BUT weren’t the best words to describe him.  We used several of Rachel’s characterization task cards as a whole class to practice choosing good fit character traits throughout the week.  I had my students work with their shoulder partner to choose character traits to describe the characters in the passages I showed on the Smartboard.   With lots of practice, they got much better as the week went on.

The students that needed a little bit more practice with choosing good character traits worked with me later in the week.  I used these task cards from Teaching With a Mountain View! I love that these cards are good context clue practice as well!

If you use Treasures, you know the third text of the week is always nonfiction.  I’ve been trying to use these more and more, especially to help teach different text structures.  In our second round of small groups this week, we read a passage called Into the Swamp.  We identified its text structure, completed a graphic organizer, and also learned how maps can be helpful text features. 

We also reviewed the types of sentences this past week because I had noticed that so many of my students needed review with ending punctuation.  We started by watching the following Brainpop Junior video, which was fantastic!

We also took notes on the four main sentence types with the flip book from my Types of Sentences Activity pack.  

Later in the week, we also did the types of sentences graffiti wall activity from my Types of Sentences pack as well.  I had a meeting before school that day, so I wasn't able to to prep the actual templates from my pack like I would have liked to because I teach writing/grammar first thing in the morning.  However, they still really LOVED the modified version. :)

Well I think that recaps our week! :)  We were certainly busy but we sure did have fun and learned a lot too! 

Monday, September 15, 2014

A Peek at Our Week: Main Idea and Similes/Metaphors

Good evening, friends! It finally feels like fall here in SW Ohio. The colder temperatures made me grateful I had my favorite black bean soup cooking away in my Crockpot tonight. :)  

Last week, our focus skill was main idea.  Which can be such a hard skill for my bigger kids, especially when the main idea isn't explicitly mentioned in the first sentence or two of a paragraph/text.  

We started our week by watching BrainPop's Main Idea video.  It is one of their free videos and you can find it {here}

It does a great job explaining how topic and main idea are not the same.  I highly recommend using it when you teach main idea!

Our Treasures anchor text last week was A Walk in the Desert. Which can be a really long/difficult text to read.  So, we only read chunks of it and I did lots of think a louds/modeling to demonstrate how to find the main idea and supporting details of the pages we read together. 

On Tuesday, I had my students complete a formative assessment on main idea. I also had them rate themselves on their understanding of main idea. 

This is the rating scale that my partner teacher and I use.  It really helps that both of us use the same language. 

I used their formative assessment/self assessment rating to create tiered activities/groups for the next day.  

My group that had low self assessment ratings/poor performance on their formative assessments worked with me. 

We started off by constructing paragraphs using Christina's Main Idea Race.  The hands on practice was SO beneficial and really helped a lot of my students differentiate the difference between main idea sentences and detail sentences. 

Then we completed one of Tracy's Main Idea Practice Pack passages together.  My students LOVE this pack.  I love it too because of all the differentiation options it has.  

My students that rated themselves a 3 and only missed a few on their formative assessment completed Bright Concept for Teachers Main Idea Task Cards and a reading passage with a main idea web. 

This passage is from Kim Miller's Find the Main Idea With Non Fiction Texts Freebie.  

My students who rated themselves as a 4/had a perfect score on their formative assessment, completed some of Teaching With a Mountain View's Main Idea Task Cards.  

They really loved reading these passages. :) I heard lots of giggles/"I didn't know that..." while my students were working through the task cards. 

Later in the week, I introduced similes and metaphors.  We revisit this a lot throughout the year. So last week, I just focused on the differences between the two.  As the year goes on, we'll focus more on determining the meaning of the similes and metaphors we come across in our reading. 

I always play this similes and metaphor song at the beginning of our first similes and metaphor lesson. My kids always LOVE it and request it often, it also makes a great brain break!

After watching the music video, I read this book to the class to build on their knowledge of similes and metaphors. It's a fun little book and my students always enjoy it. 

You can find it on Amazon {here}

After the music video and read aloud, we used a flip book from my Similes and Metaphors Activity Pack to take notes/write examples of each. 

Then we played a little Simile and Metaphor Tic Tac Toe, which was a great way to practice differentiating the difference between similes and metaphors in our reading/writing. 

 Similes and Metaphor Tic Tac Toe is from my Similes and Metaphors Activity Pack too. 

We were very busy last week and we are starting the Daily Five this week!  Our first day of rotations was today and it went pretty well.  Of course we have some things to work on but overall I'm very pleased. 

Have a great week! :) 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Back to School Recap

Hello friends! :) I'm back! The first few weeks of school are always so hard to juggle teaching, blogging, and being a wife/dog mom.  Thankfully, I am able to leave work a little earlier each day now and I should have some more time to blog, share, and create. 

The first three weeks of fourth grade have been wonderful.  I am so blessed to have two very sweet classes who love reading and writing.  They also have such fun personalities and I love spending my days with them.  One of my sweet students brought me an apple the other day and it about made me cry. A student hasn't brought me an apple in a very long time, so I cherished this sweet gesture. 

One of the first things we did this school year was starting our school year scrapbooks.  You can check out my School Year Scrapbook pack {here}.

I am really excited about our scrapbooks and I know that they will be such a great keepsake of our year together.   It has been fun to read through my students' scrapbooks and learn more about them! 

We also did lots of the Find Somebody Who pages from my Fabulous Back to School Fun pack.  They got us up and moving and learning a lot about each other.  These are always a hit with my kiddos and I always love participating in them too!

We also had lots of fun with my Cooking Up a Great School Year pack.  Both classes loved it this year and the books have sparked a lot of really great discussions on how to be a good classmate this year. You can check out my original post on Cooking Up a Great Year {here}.

As always, the Cooking Up a Great Year Trail Mix was a big hit, and quite tasty too!

This year in addition to reading and discussing the books, I tried to do some hands on activities for each character trait included in the pack. 

We did graffiti walls to talk about sharing. 
We put puzzles together with our tables for teamwork. 
We drew self portraits for being yourself.  I'm so in LOVE with their pictures.  They always make me smile. 

The activities that I added this year really made the traits stick and I look forward to adding them to my pack very soon! :)

On our first Friday of school, we did the Skittles Sharing activity from my Fabulous Back to School Fun pack.  My kids loved it and it was a great way to hit some speaking and listening standards and close out the week with a fun treat!

 Behavior Bingo is still rocking my behavior management world and both of my classes just love it.  They have both earned a bingo already and are super motivated to earn their next one.  
You can check out how I use behavior bingo {here} and check out the awesome behavior bingo board pack I purchased from Dots n Spots {here}

I also have found a morning work that I just adore. Denise's Weekly Word Work has already made a big difference with my kiddos.  It's a very well thought out resource and I love using it.  I write their assigned boxes on the Smartboard with our lunch count each morning. 

We have also been busy launching the Daily Five. I am hoping to start guided reading groups next week.  We did a trial run today and it went wonderful, so I am very hopeful for another great year with the Daily Five!

My new students are also loving our new classroom library set up and have been doing a great job at putting their books pack where they belong. 

I put a small label on the back of each book this summer and haven't found a book put in wrong bin yet. You can find the labels I used here

I'll be back later this week/weekend to share some of the things we have done this week as we focused on main idea and detail for the first time.  

Have a great rest of the week, friends!

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